Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Papi: Stepping Up Against Sharky

I like when the Sox beat Sharky Shields. Truth be told, I like it when they beat just about anyone. Wins are fantastic. They're extra-fantastic when coupled with a Yankees loss that puts us just one game out of first. Everyone likes being in first place. I know I do. Our wounded warriors do, too.

Sharky was a formidable opponent through the first four innings, only allowing a couple of hits and a walk or two. We squandered some early opportunities, and this game looked like it was going to be a tight pitcher's duel. Luckily for us, Lackey decided to man up last night and threw seven innings of 8-hit, 1-run baseball. He didn't allow that run to come across until the Sox had a 5-run lead. I still don't like John Lackey, and I'm not sure if I ever will, but we needed a good start, and a win, from him and he delivered in relatively convicing fashion.

But, back to Sharky. He was swimming along though four innings just fine. His pitch count was a little high, but the Sox tend to make pitch counts rise pretty effectively when they're actually trying. After a Cameron single and a Scutaro double, Papi stepped to the plate and smacked a three-run shot into the right field box seats, reminding us that before Pedroia went all laser show on us, he was the one who was carrying the team. It was a nice reminder. I guess that the breakthrough against Sharky was all we needed to rattle him, because after getting Youk out to end the 5th, he came back for the sixth (with his pitch count at 98), hit JD with a pitch, and gave up consecutive singles to Beltre and Tek, scoring Drew. Dan Wheeler, Sharky's replacement, would allow a single to Daniel Nava to drive in Beltre, and we led it 5-0. They compiled three more runs on a Varitek sac fly and a Bill Hall 2-run home run.

I don't remember what inning it was, but when Beltre almost crashed into Tek, I was holding my breath. Luckily, they didn't actually collide, but if they had.... I don't know, I don't think Tek would break the way Wolverine and CRW did. Tek is built like a linebacker. This, however, does not mean I want him running into Beltre's knees just to prove that he won't break. Not at all. And seriously, someone needs to talk to Beltre about not smashing into his team mates. Does this guy pay attention to his surroundings at all? It's very concerning. I'm glad Tek is ok, but it was too close for comfort.

After Lackey, it seemed it was going to be a nice easy win requiring only one, maybe two relief pitchers to close it out. Nope. Why on Earth would they make it that easy? It took five relief pitchers to close out 2 innings. Oki allowed 2 runs in 2/3rds of an inning. Bard had to come in to close out the eighth for him. Atch started the ninth, allowing a walk and a single (and stolen bases and such) before getting Longoria to pop out. Tito pulls Atch, brings in Richardson, who strikes out Pena and then allows a quick 2-run single to Ben Zobrist. Now Richardson is out. Paps comes in for a technical save and gets Willy Aybar to end the game without any further trouble. It shouldn't have been that difficult, but it was. It's fine. It's a win. We're one game back.

And not for nothing, but I'm in love with the Red Sox rain delay commercial that NESN has been showing. Tito in that wig? Priceless.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Beltre: Beware

I'm going to have a rundown of the game later... but I'm telling you right now.... if Jason Varitek has any broken parts because of Adrian Beltre, I will have a nervous breakdown.

Beltre! Stop trying to kill people!

Jon Lester: Different Kind of Laser Show

Oh Jon Lester, how do I love thee? I cannot even count the ways. They are far too numerous. I mean, I obviously love Jon's pitching, and his ability to almost be Josh Beckett, but now I get to love him for his hitting, too? Yes, I know he didn't actually notch a hit, but he did walk, and he did drive in a run on a sacrifice fly that if it had just gone another few feet would have been a grand slam.... I'm just saying. Jon did it all to cap off interleague play.

One day after we had to use the entire pen to cover for an injured Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester told the rest of the pitching staff to sit the hell down and watch how it's done. On the mound in the opposite halves of the innings was Tim Lincecum. Now, I've never seen Lincecum pitch before, but considering he's got 2 Cy Youngs under his belt in his short career, I reckon that he's probably a decent pitcher. Luckily for us, even decent pitchers have bad days, and Tim definitely had a bad day. He lasted three innings, giving up five hits and four runs, mixing in three walks (one intentional walk of Ronald) and four strikeouts. How many innings did Jonny last? Nine. Yup, complete game. We needed it so badly out of him, and usually when we need him the most, he comes through. Jon also allowed 5 hits, but only 1 run and 1 walk while piling up 9 strikeouts. That is my definition of awesome. For the season, Jon is 9-3, with a 2.86 ERA. And yes, we're sure this is the same guy who was looking like toast in April.

Our offense, despite piling 11 hits and five runs on the San Francisco pitching staff, managed to strike out 15 times. How on Earth does a team strike out fifteen times and still win a game? I don't know, but I'm glad they did. Papi got it started with a solo home run in the first. Do you know Papi is now batting .252 with 16 home runs? It seemed like just yesterday that he was batting .140. No, .252 isn't amazing, but look at that other number again. It makes the first one much nicer looking.

In the top of the second, after a walk to Martinez, a double to Hall, and an IBB to Ronald, Jonny came up to bat and smashed one to the 420 marker. Man, any other direction it would have been a GS, but he hit it to the deepest part of the park. Still, VMart would come in to score. Scutaro followed that up with an RBI single to bring Bill Hall in, and the Sox ended the inning with a 3-1 lead. Just for the heck of it, Hall (who was filling in for the wounded Munchkin) singled in Youk in the third. In the top of the ninth, Beltre hit a solo home run to give us our final score of 5-1.

Oh, but what would a game in San Francisco be without an injury. Sure enough, for the third time in three days, we walk off the field with one player less than we started with. This time, VMart got bitten by the injury bug and ended up fracturing his left thumb. Goodness. Yes, this means that Tek is going to be the starting catcher, but that worries me. He has been doing so well as a backup, I'm afraid the extra playing time is going to wear him out. I want him to be able to come off the bench fresh and contribute to the team. I just hope he's still able to do that. Luckily, Victor isn't going to require surgery, but he is requiring a (hopefully short) trip on the DL. Hooray for us. Also, Dusty Brown and Mark Wagner of Pawtucket are also on the DL, so they won't be coming up to help us. Gustavo Molina is being called up to take his place.

The very injured Sox needed Monday's off-day. Tonight, they'll be facing Sharky Shields and the Tampa Bay Rays... which sounds like a really bad children's show. We have Lackey on the mound. Let's just hope no one gets hurt!

Another One Bites The Dust: But The Sox Pick Up A Win

I've never been to San Francisco, but if normal people get injured at the rate the Red Sox do while there, I really have no interest in going. For the second time in two days, the Sox have played the Giants and have walked off the field one player short. This time around, the victim was Dahmer. Why did he injure himself? Because apparently AL pitchers don't practice running the bases in preparation for interleague. After hitting a single, Clay was attempting to move to second on a ground out by Scu-Scu-Scutaro, and pulled up lame about half way to the bag. The original diagnosis was a hyperextended knee. Terry Francona, I guess, was still in a good mood after the game, (hopefully) jokingly insulting Clay:

"He's a dumbass, too,'' Francona said with mock irritation. "He swung right through the take sign.

Oh Tito, ever the comedian. Anyway, turns out that instead of a knee issue, Clay actually has a minor lower hamstring tear, and no one seems to know yet whether or not he's definitely making his next start. Smart money is on no, but seeing as how depleted the team is, we may just have to make him. Luckily, we've got quite a few off-days coming up.

So Dahmer only pitched one inning. That left 7-8 innings for the bullpen to cover. Can they do it? You're damn right they can! Everyone in the bullpen pulled themselves together, and combined went 8 innings, giving up five hits and two runs, only allowing 2 walks while collecting six strikeouts. THAT was a team effort, and it was bloody appreciated after the costly injuries. Yeah, we ended up exhausting our pen, but they really did a fantastic job picking up Clay when he needed it. Again, Scott Atchison stepped into the starter shoes and did an admirable job. For someone who was DFA'ed, what? Twice? He's been just what we needed. Atch was followed by Rambo, Delcarmen, Richardson, and OBP. Fantastic job by the pen. Even better that it was all for a winning effort! Let's discuss the offense, shall we?

Ronald McDonald opened up the scoring with a solo HR in the first inning. The second inning brought us three runs on Cameron's first home run as a member of the Red Sox. And that, my friends, was all we needed. Which was good, because it was all we got. They only pulled together five hits, but for once, they made almost all of them count. The only two hits that didn't lead to a run were Dahmer's single and Scutaro's double. A win is a win, and this was the definition of a team win one day after Pedroia goes down. The pen, let by Atch, really banded together. This was definitely one of those pen performances that you can really be proud of. Every pirate lent a hand... or a peg leg.

Now, with the first two wins and injuries out of the way, we leave it to Jon Lester to face the reigning NL Cy Young winner in Tim Lincecum. This will be interesting!

Ugliness In The Bay: Sox Lose Game and Pedroia

I guess it was just one of those 'aint-gonna-happen' games. After taking a first inning lead with a 3-run home run by Youk, everything just sort of fell apart. Everything.

Wake wasn't horrible, but he was far from good, allowing 11 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, and a wild pitch in seven innings. He was also responsible for a very ugly error that allowed the 3rd run of the second inning to score. On a Jonathan Sanchez bunt, Wake fielded and should have just held the ball. Instead, he threw it away. It was ugly. Just... the entire inning was just ugly, and it really spoiled the joy of the Youk homer. Timmy allowed a solo HR to Juan Uribe in the 3rd, but settled down after that, and made it through seven. Of course, in his one inning of work, Rambo made sure that we would have no chance at winning the game, allowing an extra run in the bottom of the 8th to make the score 5-3 Giants.

But the third... oh, the third was painful. Munchkin, he of the laser show brilliance from the night before, stepped up to the plate and fouled Jonathan Sanchez's fifth pitch off of foot. He would eventually work the walk, but it was more of a hobble down the first base line. Munchkin was in pain. He had to be helped down to the clubhouse. Never a good sign. We would learn later that he actually broke his foot, was placed on the DL, and will miss 4-6 weeks of action. THAT, my friends, is the most painful thing you could have told me about this season. Losing Beckett, Ellsbury, Cameron, Hermida, Dice-K, Lowell, and whoever else is one thing.... but Pedroia is the soul of this team. Though worrying will do me no good, and I'm sure we'll fare ok without him.

In the ninth, Youk hit a triple, and was singled in by VMart for our fourth run of the game, but that was all we'd get. The Giants shut the door on us, and we lost 5-4. Like I said, it was a painful loss, and Pedroia being gone for four to six weeks makes me unusually sad. Let's see who steps up in his place.

Laser Show: Most Entertaining Thing On TV

I'll tell you one thing... when Pedroia promises a laser show, I believe him. Now, he didn't specifically go out of his way to promise one for the final game of the Rockies series, but after his struggles earlier in the month, he was confident that there would be plenty of shows over the season. He was right, but I'm sure there aren't many people who doubted him. Not anymore anyway.

Sure enough, Pedroia WAS the show on Thursday, June 24th against the Rockies, going 5 for 5 with a walk, a single, a double, and three home runs, including the 2-run home run he hit in the top of the 10th. We can all sit around disappointed that he didn't hit a double, or we can just marvel at Munchkin. When he struggles, he doesn't carry it with him. He is able to turn himself around and get back on track each time, and each time, he does it more dramatically. How much more dramatic can you get than 5 for 5? You can't do it. He might be able to do it, but you can't. To this day, I still feel stupid for ever thinking that Pedroia wasn't ready to be an every day second baseman. I am SO glad he proved me wrong, and I will absolutely never doubt him again.

It was a typical outing for Dice-K. In five innings, he threw 105 pitches, hit a batter, walked four, and allowed two runs on five hits. Calling this a typical outing makes me sort of sad, but it is. He went through a really good stretch where he was throwing strikes and not nibbling, but in his first game back from the disabled list, he nibbled. It's fine. He didn't end up with a decision, and he didn't give us a heck of a lot of innings, but it's fine. Next time around, he'll probably pitch a complete game.

The sixth inning got awfully ugly awfully fast. Dice-K came out of the game with a 6-2 lead. Delcarmen relieved him, faced three batters, and didn't get a single out. After loading the bases, Oki came in and immediately allowed those runs to score on a 2-run single by Todd Helton, and an RBI single to Miguel Olivo. After he allowed all of Delcarmen's runs to come in (granted, he did manage 2 outs in that time), he allowed a bases-loaded 2-run single to Ian Stewart, and was taken out in favor of Rambo. Now, for those keeping track at home, that's 2 pitchers, 2/3rds of an inning, 38 pitches, and five runs. Rambo can't shut them down either, allowing an RBI single to Clint Barnes before being able to get Ryan Spilborghs to line out to Scutaro. Total for the sixth inning from Red Sox pitching? 1 inning, seven hits, six earned runs, one walk, no strikeouts, 43 pitches, three pitchers. Those are some scary numbers.

Our boys were able to re-take the lead in 7th. After singles from Nava and Pedroia, a ground out from Papi, and an RBI single from Beltre, Jason Varitek stepped to the plate (swoon!) and knocked a 2-run double into right field, making the score 9-8 Sox. Oh, that Jason. He's so fantastic, isn't he? I think he is. They added further distance between themselves and the Rox in the 8th on Pedroia's second home run of the game, scoring Daniel Nava to make the score 11-8 Sox. Unfortunately, though, in the bottom of the frame, Scott Atchison, who has just been fantastically important to our bullpen, allowed a run to score, bring the tally to 11-9 Sox. It would stay that way until the ninth, when in stepped Paps.

Fresh off of his implosion the night before, Papelbon was determined to close out the game quickly and easily. Once again, though, he failed. He did get the first batter on a strikeout, but then allowed consecutive singles to Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez, and the painful 2-run single to Brad Hawpe, bringing Papelbon's pitching total for his two days of work in Colorado (at that point) to 1 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs. Sure, he came back after Munchkin hit his third home run of the day (his second 2-run shot), and closed out the bottom of the 10th, but his shakiness over the Rox series was concerning.

It's fine, though. We got a laser show and avoided the sweep. Next, on to San Francisco to visit the Giants!

Slightly Surprising: Lowell to DL

I may have been the last to know about the move to put Mike Lowell on the DL to open a roster spot for Dice-K. I mean, I knew Dice was coming back, but I didn't realize that Lowell was injured. Apparently, he was:

Mike Lowell felt a twinge in the back of his surgically repaired right hip before Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Rockies and tried to erase his pain later that night with a game-winning pinch-hit. Instead, Lowell was thrown out on a one-hop throw by Clint Barmes, even though the shortstop had to make a diving stop and literally tumbled over before releasing the throw.

Ok, so now I feel better about my decision at the time not to pick on the man. I guess he was hurt. And if he wasn't hurt, then the Red Sox need him to play hurt. We need our bullpen. There's really no one we can send down right now, and (this hurts me to say) I guess Mikey is the dispensable one. Ow. My love for Mikey is hurting.

Let's just hope he gets better and can contribute to the team... the Red Sox... in the future. Who knows? We may just be able to get him some valuable at-bats, right?

.... Right?

Rockies: Slowly Getting Their Revenge

First it was Jon Lester, our beloved lefty who shut down any last hope the Rockies had of winning a game during the World Series in 2007.

Then it was Papelbon, the closer who danced on all of their playoff dreams. Who's next?

I don't know, but watching Papelbon implode and give up three runs without recording an out rightly pissed me off. I can honestly say I've never been more annoyed with Jonathan. And every time he blows a save, you can be sure that someone will bring up how he isn't Mo Rivera and needs to shut his mouth and pitch before demanding to be treated like Mo. This time, it was me bringing that up. Me and about a thousand other people. It's not to say that Mariano has never blown a save. We know he has. Doesn't mean we want our closer doing that. I think the thing that kills me the most is that he didn't even get an out. Not one. Not a single out on a night where the Sox beat up the front runner for the NL Cy Young. We had Ubaldo Jiminez squarely in the loss column for this one! But no, Paps couldn't shut the door. Instead of continuing to focus on the end of the game, let's go back and look at what went right for the Sox.

Things that went right
1) John Lackey. Sort of. - John, despite his struggles and his inability to make me like him, managed to keep the Sox in the game long enough for them to beat up on Jimenez. No, he wasn't good, allowing five runs on ten hits over the course of 6.2 innings, but he didn't completely implode, so I'll take it. Overall though, he really, truly worries me whenever he's on the mound. On the plus side, though, I feel much better about him being in the batters box. Lackey was able to grab two hits, and he scored a run for his own effort. See? I went back to talking about good things. John Lackey in the batters box was a good thing.

2) The sixth inning - What started with a fly out and a HBP (Beltre), ended with the Sox taking the lead for the first time in the game when they managed to pull together four runs. Nava doubled to drive in Beltre. Ronald homered to drive in Nava, Lackey doubled, and Scutaro singled him in. It was such a happy inning at the time!

3) Getting to Jiminez - The Sox managed to get 6 runs off of 10 hits and a HBP. Jiminez didn't walk anyone and recorded seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings. Sure, the Sox had trouble with the bullpen, but at least they can say that they managed to beat up Jiminez, right?

Man, I wanted this win. I wanted the Sox to win and Steroid Monkey to never have another highlight moment in his career, and both of my wishes were dashed at the end of this game. It hurt. It hurt, but just like the game before, it's only one loss and we have a chance to avoid the sweep tomorrow night (spoiler: we avoid the sweep! This is the benefit of writing about the past). So with lonely, sad eyes, we turn to Dice-K, fresh off the disabled list, and beg for a win. Get it done, Dice.

(Don't worry. He does!)

Hairy Chested Red Sox: Falling Apart In The Mountains

Playing the Rockies again meant one thing for sure... we would hear the name Bob Apodaca about a hundred times per night. I wasn't disappointed. There was a mention of Apodaca around every corner... every pitch, it seemed. And Mr. Apodaca, who we ALL know is the pitching coach for the Rockies, made me hearing his name one hundred times worth my while when we were reminded of this quote:

"Big, hairy-chested guys, one right after another, that work the count, that pounce on your mistakes. Power and quality hitting from the left-hand side and the right-hand side. More speed in the lineup. ... They create a lot of pressure on you."

Bob Apodaca, I do not know why you've been staring at the chests of our players, but I think I found a reason to love you. I laughed out loud, and I sure needed to laugh. I definitely wasn't laughing after the game, but I got to laugh during it. Thanks, Bob!

Jon Lester got the start against the Rockies in a rematch of game four of the 2007 World Series. Lester, of course, got the win in that game, introducing himself as a future ace for the Sox. More importantly, he got run support in that game. This time around, he didn't. In the six innings that Lester was on the mound, the Sox managed to score a grand total of zero runs. In fact, they only mustered three singles. So while Jon was good (not great), he ended up with a tough-luck loss that left a bad taste in my mouth. I like pitching duels, but they are the most painful kinds of losses to me. When your pitcher is throwing a gem, and ends up losing by one run, it stings. Especially when his offense has the bases loaded twice and can't get anything out of it... that's when it hurts. But, it's one loss, and we can put it behind us.

Oki irked me. He irked me because he just had to go and give up another run. Had he not done that, we would have been tied after nine and we still could have won. I mean, we probably wouldn't have, but we could have. I guess I need a scapegoat for my unhappiness, and Oki gets the job on this occasion. Whatever. Like I said... one loss. We lose, we move on.

Also, I'll never pick on Mikey... even though I'm pretty sure he wasn't even trying to hustle down the line in the 9th. Yes, he's slow, and he's got a surgically repaired right hip, and he had been on the bench for the entire game, but maybe a little hustle? I don't know. Like I said, I won't pick on him. It just seems like we let this one get away. Shame.

Manny Being Holy: Maybe He Saw The Light?

I promise. This is the last thing I will write about Manny for the season, unless the Dodgers and the Sox end up meeting in the World Series. Manny, apparently, has found God. From the article:

Berenguer said that Ramirez no longer speaks of retirement, and said that the length of his career will be determined by a higher power.

He also said Manny has found God, reads the Bible on a daily basis, and quoted scriptures constantly during their conversation.

On his transgressions in Boston, Manny said: "There's no reason I should have behaved that way in Boston.''

No, it's not an apology for his behavior. I personally don't think we need one from him. I know I don't, but maybe some people feel like they do. At the very least, it's nice to see that Manny can acknowledge that he was wrong. Does this change anything? Does it change the way he behaved and the situation he put the Sox front office in during the trade deadline of 2008? Nope. Doesn't change any of that one bit. But I know that it did change some people's minds about him. Deep down, a lot of Sox fans want to love Manny, but they're hurt by what he did. Stuff like this makes it easier to forgive him and focus on all the positive he brought to the Sox for seven and a half seasons.

Yeah, maybe he's spouting bullshit, but he has no need to. He's gone, and he knows he's not coming back. He has nothing to gain by saying this now. I think if he had said this before his first game back at Fenway, it would have been different. It would have come off as crowd-baiting, trying desperately to make Sox fans love him again (like Johnny Damon trying to buy our love). I'll never know if Manny was being genuine or not. I hope he was. I hope we can look at him and see someone who's matured, but I don't know.

I hope it more for his sake than anything. Still... whether he was sincere, or just looking for a way to make people love him again, I think it was a good way for Manny to leave town. I'll miss him, for sure... but I'm glad we just swept his team.

Clay Can Clean: Sweeping the Dodgers Away

Oh, I know these post titles verge on ridiculous at times, but our little Dahmer managed to complete the sweep of the big, bad Dodgers. I'm allowed to be ridiculous. In all fairness, I'm sure I'd be more ridiculous if he had lost, but it wouldn't whimsical ridiculousness. It would be angry ridiculousness. So, Dahmer wasn't at his best. I know, seems like a stupid thing to say in a game where he managed to keep the Dodgers off the board, but he really wasn't. He threw 106 pitches in 6.2 innings, walked three, and hit two batters. Consider in the top of the first, he had the bases loaded with one out after two of those walks and a Manny Ramirez (there's that name again) single. He had to throw thirty pitches in the first inning alone to get out of that jam unscathed, but he did it. So no, he wasn't at his best but he was still damn good. Maybe I was wrong about him. Maybe.

And yet, Pedroia was the story of the game again. Isn't he always? In the first, after a ground ball single, Pedroia decided to steal second. When Russell Martin failed to throw cleanly, Munchkin jumped up and moved to third. Sure it only counts as one stolen base, but still... he came around to score. In the third, after another single, Pedroia steals second again. Unfortunately, our mighty Munchkin was stranded there, but he wasn't done. Do you know what he did in the 8th? Yeah you do, you were watching. In the 8th, Pedroia tripled. Yup. He tripled. All that talk the next day about Pedroia showing off his wheels? That was why. He was fun to watch. Hell, he's always fun to watch. Out of the seven hits the Sox had for the day, Pedroia had three of them, AND two stolen bases. He may not have been directly responsible for the runs, but he definitely provided the energy that the team needed. Pedroia's good like that.

Other notable performances? No one. No one is going to outshine Dahmer or Munchkin from this game. Sox finished with the sweep on a day when the Yankees won and Tampa lost. These pesky Sox have been inching closer and closer to the top of the AL east, and have one of the best records in baseball. No one saw that coming in April, did they? Ok, so I'm sure a lot of you did. I didn't. I was expecting just to root on a .500 team, but luckily, they've rewarded a lot of loyalty from their fans by playing the best baseball since April 20th. Glad to see there's some life in these guys after all!

Wake Against The Dodgers: A Saturday Spectacle

Yep. It's June 29th, and I'm finally getting around to writing about a game that happened on June 19th. So, I'm ten days behind. I've got a lot to write about, and I didn't want to miss the entire month. Here we go. Bear with me.

It was one of those games that you weren't really sure what was going to happen. We had Wake on the mound, and the Dodgers offered up Vincente Padilla. Looking at the numbers that the two have posted so far in the season didn't reveal anything. They usually don't, but I look at them anyway. With Wake, as we all know too well, you absolutely cannot tell what you're going to get. Even if he has a clean inning or two, implosion could be right around the corner. Or he could end up pitching nine clean innings. For the most part, Wake handled himself admirably against the Dodgers. No, he didn't get the win, but he didn't get the loss, so I'm content. I cannot go over his entire pitching performance for you, because I don't remember it all that well, and to pretend I do would be disingenuous. What I can give you is Wake's line... 6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K's. He also allowed three SB's, which is about on par for what you'd expect Timmy to allow. His most notable SB of the night was to our very special guest, Manny. But I'm not here to talk about Manny.

I'm not even really here to talk about Timmy, thought I always love to go on and on about him.

I'm here to talk about the laser show. You saw it. I saw it. It never fails to impress me.

After a game that saw Manny Delcarmen blow Wakey's game, and saw the Red Sox commit FOUR ERRORS (which is just a travesty no matter how you look at it... and I'm looking in the direction of Beltre, Hall, and Scutaro), this was a game that we looked determined to lose. It had all the makings of an ugly game, and I was sort of expecting to walk away with the loss. But Munchkin, ever the restorer of faith in the nation, came up to bat with two on and two out in the ninth inning of a tied game. He looked absolutely lost against Broxton, swinging at pitches he had no business swinging at, but then Broxtond did the most amazing thing... he lobbed one right down the middle of the plate, and Munchkin knew exactly what to do with that. A single to right field scored Daniel Nava from second, and Pedroia got to celebrate his first career walk-off hit. Amazing to think that with all our little Munchkin has accomplished, that he has never before gotten the chance to get mobbed and beaten joyfully by his team mates. Maybe he's gunning for Papi's title as the best clutch hitter on the team? Wouldn't surprise me.

This win could have been avoided. All Broxton had to do was throw a pitch low and out of the strike zone (cause we know Munchkin likes to hit the high fastballs). The count was 1-2, and he absolutely could have wasted a pitch or two in that AB. But I'm not a pitcher, so I'm not technically qualified to say what was called for on that occasion. Whatever was going through his head, I do not know. But I'm glad it went, because we got another ticket to the laser show. Can't complain about that. And wins? Can't complain about that either.

My goodness, I love Pedroia.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome Back, Manny: Friday Night at Fenway

It's tempting to write this entire blog post about Manny. I adore Manny, and that's never been a secret, but I will try to limit my Manny love... just a little. Seeing Manny back in Fenway was fantastic for me. I want to be able to say that fans did right by him, and gave him the ovation he deserved, but it was honestly mixed. I was in a section with Sox and Dodgers fans alike, all wearing Ramirez shirts, and we had a pretty good "Man-ny!" chant going a few times. Just like old times. Manny didn't react to the crowd, mostly because, well, he had a job to do and the only time he was on the field was to hit. Depending on where you were in the park, you heard either predominant boos or cheers. I heard cheers. I know other people who heard boos. No matter where you sat, though, it was a mix, and that made me sad. I really thought that there would be more cheers. I guess people really don't like Manny. He'll always have my love, though. Always.

Don't care. Still love the man. And yeah, I clapped my hands off when he got a base hit in the 6th. Again, I'm shameless in my love for him, so I don't care. A few anti-Manny folks around me didn't appreciate me clapping for him, but I didn't appreciate them booing him, so we're even. Manny, for his part, looked unaffected. I'm sure he was focused, and trying to drown out the negativity around him. His first two at-bats, he swung at the first pitch and got nothing. He went 1 for five for the day, but in that one hit, you got to see him on base with Youk, and both of them seemed pretty happy. If his team mates can forgive his bad behavior, why can't we? After all, their jobs were affected by his antics. Ours weren't. But, I'm one to talk. I guess being a Manny-apologist doesn't allow me to see the other side of the argument. Actually, I don't want to see it. I'm happy in my blind Manny adoration. Ok... enough about Manny for now... there was more to this game than number 99.

On the Sox side of the field, we got to witness the major league debut of 22 year-old Felix Doubront. I'll admit, aside from the name, I didn't know anything about him other than the fact that he was left handed. Felix, who ultimately got the win, looked good. He had two clean innings to start the game, hit a rough patch in the 3rd, allowing three runs to tie it, then he was able to settle down for the fourth and fifth. After the Sox put together a 7-run bottom of the fifth, I think Felix came back nervous. He immediately allowed 2 runs and two additional baserunners before recording an out. Tito pulled him, and he left the field to a standing ovation - one that he very much deserved. It was a great debut for a kid that looks to have quite a bit of promise.

Atchinson came in with two-on, no-outs in the sixth and shut the Dodgers down... for three innings. I don't know what's happened to Atch lately, but he's been dependable. I'm enjoying it! Dustin Richardson, on the other hand, allowed three hits and a run in 1/3rd of an inning. He hasn't impressed me, but he's one of our kids, so he gets another chance.... at least with me. I don't know how our GM feels about him. So, Bard comes in to finish up the 9th, and the Sox inevitably win 10-6.

Ortiz, of course, hit a blast in the first. It was a 429 ft, 2-run shot, giving us a 2-0 lead at the time. His home run that inning, number 274 in Papi's Sox career tied him for fifth in Sox history. The other guy with 274? Manny. Love it. Drew followed that up with his own solo shot. That fifth inning was awesome, though. There were singles from Munchkin, McDonald, and Cameron, walks from Papi (one regular and one intentional), doubles from Tek and Youk, a home run from Beltre, a stolen base from McDonald, a passed ball, a hit LF (Nava), and a sacrifice fly. It was pure insanity. In the end, all of our guys got a hit except for Scutaro (SO much better than Lugo) and Nava.

Unfortunately, Drew came up lame making a play on a Manny fly out in the 3rd. McDonald filled in nicely, though. Looks like Drew will be ok, but he was diagnosed with a strained hamstring. The Dodgers fan in front of me turned and looked at me and said "he does that all the time." And while I would normally agree with him, Drew's been pretty solid this year, so I can't get on his case. Like I said, he should be fine.

A win is a win, and a win with Manny in the park makes me happy. I promise, the Manny-love will calm down a little with the next post. I promise!

Playing Catch-up: Closing Out the Diamondback Series

It's not a well-kept secret that I have no faith in John Lackey. Somehow, I got the impression that Lackey is always on the mound when we have the chance to sweep, and he always comes up short. Being the good, completely not-lazy blogger that I am, I decided to go back through the whole entire season, three grueling months, and check out any opportunities to sweep. I would have bet my firstborn on the fact that it was Lackey blowing our chances at the sweeps. Instead, what I found made me sort of sad. Results are here:

Missed Sweep Opportunities
April 22, Rangers @ Sox - Starter: C. Buchholz
April 25, Orioles @ Sox - Starter: T. Wakefield
May 12, Blue Jays @ Sox - Starter: T. Wakefield
June 3, A's @ Sox - Starter: T. Wakefield
June 6, Sox @ Orioles - Starter: J. Lackey
June 13, Phillies @ Sox - Starter: T. Wakefield

Sigh. Poor Tim. I don't know how I turned his starts into Lackey starts in my mind, but I guess Lackey deserves a little more credit than I give him. I still won't give it to him yet, but he deserves it.

Anyhow, that still didn't leave me very confident in the matchup of John Lackey vs. Dan Haren (PS, Dan Haren? The hobo look does not suit you. Clean yourself up). It wasn't as if Haren had much better numbers than Lackey, or that he's intimidating. He doesn't, and he's not. I just... don't trust John. He had two innings in which he didn't allow a run to score. His only clean inning of the night was his final inning - the sixth. All in all, he allowed 8 hits, 2 walks, 3 ER's, and he hit a guy. Not the most impressive outing against a team that came in to this game with a record of 26-41. They're not the Orioles, but they're also not a very good team. It's ok, he walked away with the win, and it's good enough for me, I guess. Ok, it's not, but I'll deal with my own Lackey-related issues another time.

The offense backed Lackey with 10 hits and 8 runs, including a 2-run home run by the Large Father himself. If there's any doubt that Ortiz is ok and people pressed the panic button too early with him, his 14 home runs and .266 average should alleviate some of that doubt. Turns out he just had a slow start. I promise, this is the last I'll harp on Papi's slow start and the horrible overreaction to such. I'm just happy that our Papi is back, and can still hit them out. Every Papi home run is like a ray of sunshine on a cold, rainy day.

Daniel Nava, though, was great. The kid, as of the June 17th game, had four doubles, six RBI's, and a grand slam in less than a week. Could we really ask for more from him? Oh yeah, he scored two runs of his own and contributed with three hits to help finish off the Diamondbacks. He's honestly got to be on top of the world, and I hope he gets to stay there. I bet he and Wake have plenty to talk about, what with no one wanting them to play baseball and still managing to pull themselves up and have big league careers and all. I know, I'm getting ahead of myself with Nava, but he's just got such a great story that it's hard for me not to. I wish nothing but good things for him.

Overall, the only batters without hits were Youk, Drew, and McDonald, which is perfectly fine, because we all know they contribute other times. How can I really complain about a win, especially when I'm this far behind with my blogging (not going to meet my quota for the month... damnit!)? I can't. And I won't. I'll gladly take a sweep and a Papi home run any day, even if it IS Lackey on the mound.

Next in my catch-up effort... Manny returns. Bet you can't wait... because Lord knows we hadn't heard enough about him!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Days Behind: Wednesday Night at Fenway

I'm so frazzled from school and work that I honestly can't remember if I already wrote about this game. I know for sure I didn't get to upload any of my pictures yet. I'll get to that this weekend, but whether or not they make it onto the blog is debatable (they probably won't).

But I wanted to make sure I wrote about it, because it was a fun game. I love watching Jon Lester pitch. I honestly do... not that this fact surprises anyone. Though, this season, whenever I've seen Lester pitch, I'm on the wrong side of the field. Luck is funny like that. Anyhow, Lester wasn't sharp. He wasn't bad, but he definitely was struggling with keeping the ball in the strike zone. He walked three and hit a batter, but still managed to strike out seven D-backs. I also had to laugh, because the other player I wanted to see, Stephen Drew, didn't play. Figures. I would have had a perfect view of him, but it was not to be. I got a few shots of him at-bat in the 9th, but you couldn't really see his face. Maybe next time. Yes, I covet the younger Drew... less now than in the past. When we had Lugo, man, I would have given my left hand to swap him for S. Drew. Now we've got Scu-Scu-Scutaro, and I'll be honest, I sort of like him. So, no more Drew brothers for us. For now.

David Ortiz had the only two walks given to the Red Sox on Wednesday, which strikes me as a sign that he is back at that level where people are afraid to pitch to him. Maybe I'm just delusional because I want to believe that, but either way works for me. Our farm system twims, Munchkin and Youk, both had 2-run home runs that were clobbered pretty solidly. Overall, we had ten hits, Scutaro, Munchkin, and Beltre had two apiece. Really, against Rodrigo Lopez, I sort of expected more, but I will happily take these results.

So, despite his lack of sharp command, Jonny managed seven innings, allowing 2 runs on a home run, and four hits overall. He may not have been sharp, but his performance was certainly good enough. Bard, Rambo, and Paps finished up the game for us. Daniel had a clean inning in the 8th. Rambo came in for the ninth, pitched 2/3rds, and gave way to Paps who technically got a save. Sure, he came in with 2 on, meaning that the runner at the plate represented their possible 5th run, making it a technical save situation, but in the 9th, the game never felt like a possible loss. The Diamondbacks are just in a free-fall right now, and they aren't scary. I was happy to get the win, and I do love Pap's entrance into the game, so... good things. All good things.

On top of that, the weather held out, and we ended up with no rain after all. Perfect night. Not hot, cold, or humid, and a relatively easy commute home. I would be greedy to ask for anything more

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Manny: My Favorite Subject

Good game last night. Dahmer struggled a bit early, but still turned in a quality outing. Sox lost no ground in the standings. I love Stephen Drew, blah blah blah. I can't convince myself that I want to write about that game last night. It was good. We won. Aside from a home run from Papi and the fact that Adrian Beltre has gone like, a whole week without maiming an outfielder, it was a pretty easygoing game. Nothing exciting to write home about.

The topic on everyone's minds right now is Manny. He's coming. On Friday, Manny is back in Fenway park. I'll laugh if he's not in the lineup on Friday, but since I suspect he will be, the decision that all 37,000 fans that will be in attendance that night comes down to one issue. To boo or not to boo.

If you even CONSIDER booing Manny, I have to question your fanhood. If you actually do it, you should be ashamed of yourself. I'll be standing and clapping for him, because he deserves it. Things ended badly, of course. Don't they always seem to?

Manny is what we made him. He became a spoiled child because we LET him. No matter what he did, we cheered. And really, he did plenty of amazing things with the Sox, so Manny gets the standing O. I went out of my way to get tickets to the game on Friday specifically so I could cheer Manny. He deserves it.

Pedro got the appropriate reaction. Do right by Manny, even if you didn't like how he left.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Daniel Nava: Making Me Sit In The Rain

I love Fenway. I'll sit in that park through many bad conditions, especially if we're winning. On Saturday, under a constant drizzle-to-light-rain, I sat in row 47 of the bleachers. I was two rows in front of the Dunkin' Dugout, and I'll tell ya, those aren't bad seats. Sure, you're far from the field, but there are no obstructed views, and the fans out in the bleachers are usually the most passionate fans of them all. We were suprised, my friend and I, when Dice-K was not on the mound. We couldn't figure out why Atchinson was starting. I'll admit, I was worried. But he did a fine job, considering that it was the first start of his career and he only had about 5 minutes of warning before he had to go face the Phillies. Two runs in three innings is good enough for a reliever in my book.

There were a lot of Phillies fans in my section, and for the most part, they were pretty cool. There were a handful that got very drunk and obnoxious, but I'm sure there were just as many drunk, obnoxious Sox fans. The one thing we all agreed on was the fact that the Yankees suck. A Yankee fan in attendance with an apparently good sense of humor decided to stand up and show off his 27 rings shirt, earning him the boos of everyone around him. We were all having a good time until one guy had to take it too far. He walked over to the Yankee fan and smacked his hat off his head, earning him a quick ejection from the park and the boos of the rest of us. I hate it when there's one person that takes it too far. For the record, the jerk WAS a Phillies fan. Please, if you're going to come into another team's park, at least don't be an ass.

So, Sox were down by a run when Daniel Nava stepped to the plate. A few people around us hadn't heard of him, but I had read before the game that he was called up (and I was excited, because I knew his back story, and I love when guys like him get a shot at the majors). We didn't even get a chance to debate the merits of him getting a call-up when he smacked Joe Blanton's first pitch into the bullpen (caught by Manny Delcarmen!) for a grand slam. Fenway was crazed. I love it when that old park gets that level of energy, especially in the rain. We were buzzing again when he came up for his next at-bat with the bases loaded and nobody out AGAIN! What are the odds of that? I know that four people have hit grand slams in their first major league at-bat, and only Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit it on the first pitch, but how many batters have had bases loaded with no one out for their first two major league at bats?

Also, I find in incredibly interesting that Wolverine was one of the other two players to have hit a grand slam in his first at bat, and the reason that Nava got the opportunity to HAVE that at-bat was because Wolverine was on the DL. I don't know, maybe that's not amusing to anyone else, but I think it's a fantastic coincidence. Overall, Nava ended up with two hits (GS and 2B) and four RBI. That's a debut you can be proud of. Welcome to Fenway, Daniel! Also, very cool that his parents JUST made it to the game and recorded the whole thing for him.

Our bullpen did a great job of banding together on a night when we suddenly found ourselves without a starter. As mentioned, Atchinson only gave up the 2 runs, but because he only pitched three innings, he wasn't eligible for the win. Delcarmen came in after Atch, pitched two scoreless innings and got the win. Oki pitched 1 1/3, and Rambo collected 1 2/3rds. Paps, coming back from bereavement leave, pitched the ninth just to get some work. After all, we had an 8-run lead at that point. Great job all around by our pitching.

In other parts of the lineup, Drew had a very nice night with three hits. Six out of nine guys had 2 or more hits. Tek, Youk, and Scutaro had one hit a piece. I mean, what can I really say about this game that hasn't been said already? Great night, and a great way for Nava to introduce himself to the Fenway Faithful, even if it was raining.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tim Wakefield: Giving Me A Legitimate Reason To Have To Post

The blog is something that I tend to fall away from easily. I like writing it, but sometimes I'd just rather read what other people write. That is my explanation for why I've ignored some pretty great games by the Red Sox, and wrote absolutely nothing about my trip to Baltimore this past weekend. But, Tim has prompted me to action once again. Maybe the good vibes coming from Mr. Wakefield will keep me motivated for a few days.

Timmy officially passed The Texas Conman on the Sox all-time IP list. That is no small accomplishment, to be sure. Tim has now pitched 2,777 innings as a member of the Red Sox. That's 8,331 outs. Using my magical estimation of roughly 5 pitches per batter, it means Tim's thrown 41,655 pitches as a member of the Sox. I may go back and do some actual research later, but try not to hold your breath for that. Sixteen seasons. Do you know how old I was when Tim joined the Red Sox? Nine. Since then, I've gone on to graduate high school and college, plodded my way almost through a master's degree (only a few months to go before I'm done!), had three different jobs, two different cars, and countless different friends. I've gone from listening to a cassette player, to a CD player, to an iPod. The walls in my room have been painted five times. When Tim started pitching, my TV weighed about 500 pounds (rough estimate), and the picture was grainy. Now it weighs about 20 pounds and we have HD. All these things have changed, and yet Tim stays the same. On he goes, with his 66 mph knuckleball dancing down the lane, and his 70 mph fastball somehow still confusing people.

Sure, there are plenty of stats that don't look so hot on Tim's record, and he's still got a long way to go before he reaches the top of the Sox all-time win list. He's piled up quite a few losses, and he'll never make Cooperstown, but there is no one I would rather see get to the top of that list than Tim Wakefield. He's been a good soldier throughout his career, both on and off the field, and I've got nothing but respect for what he's done.

So his win last night was appropriate. Timmy went 7 1/3rd innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned), four hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. He lowered his ERA by half a run. Tim was helped out with some two-out RBI's from Youk, Beltre, and Hall. Three runs was all he needed. Granted, the Indians aren't the hottest hitting team in baseball right now, but they're still better than some teams... aren't they? I don't want to get into the offense, really, because it took an error for them to start scoring any runs against a guy who almost got his head taken off a few weeks ago. A guy who's 2-7 with an ERA over five and a flat fastball... yeah, they couldn't hit off of him. It's fine. They gave Tim just enough, when they usually give him nothing. I'll take it.

Sure, all-time IP leader may not be the most impressive title, but I don't care. Congratulations, Tim Wakefield. Here's to sixteen more wins!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Armando Galarraga: Robbed

Ugh... All I have to say about the attempted perfect game by Galarraga is that the umpires blew it. To lose a no-hitter is one thing. Sure, it's painful, and sure, you may never get it again, but it's not as bad. Galarraga had what would have been the third perfect game of the 2010 season if the umpire at first, Jim Joyce, hadn't completely blown the call. There have never been as many as two perfect games in a season before this year. Three would have been amazing.

Listen, I can't speak for what Jim Joyce saw or heard, but Jason Donald was out by a whole step. Sure, Galarraga snow-coned the ball, but he was holding onto it. Heartbreaking. Galarraga handled the news well, but his facial expression broke my heart.

Jim Joyce should be ashamed of himself. I've been saying it all season... the umpiring this year has been disgraceful. I don't care if he made the call he thought was right, I hope he gets punished for it.

Also, in news that I feel I should have more to say about... Ken Griffey Jr. has announced his retirement. For a long time, Griffey was the embodiment of hope. He was going to be the next Hank Aaron. He was going to break the home run record. He was going to break every record there was. And then injuries derailed his career, and we were all left wondering what could have been. Don't get me wrong, The Kid put together a tremendous career, and his accomplishments are certainly nothing to be ashamed of. He had a wonderful 22 year and 2 month career that will almost definitely end with him getting into Cooperstown on the first ballot. If he doesn't, it'll be a crime against baseball for sure.

He finishes up with 630 home runs, putting him fifth on the all-time home run list. There's not a whole lot I can say about Griffey that won't be said a million times in the coming days. All I can say is that in the game of baseball and the hearts of baseball fans, he's a legend in his own right, and he will be missed. Thanks, Junior, for all the memories and good luck!

VMart: Saving Lackey's W

Five hits came pouring off the bat of Victor Martinez last night. Just enough to ensure that he literally did ALL he could to get the W for Lackey. This looked like a game that was destined to result in a Red Sox loss. You had a pretty unimpressive starter, a bunch of hitters who couldn't hit with runners on base, and just a general sense of 'aw, this is not gonna be fun'

Lackey didn't deserve the win, but he got it. Personally, I don't think he's deserved any win this season. Instead of writing an actual post, because really, why would I want to do that, I'm going to make a list of people I think deserved the win more than Lackey last night. In a semi-particular order:

-Victor Martinez
-Adrian Beltre
-Manny Delcarme
-Daniel Bard
-Joe Nelson
-Dustin Pedroia
-Kevin Youkilis
The bottom 3rd of our order
-Kerwin Danley
-Gio Gonzalez
-Alex Gonzalez
-Tim Wakefield
-Josh Beckett
-The impending pitching performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka
-Billy Beane
-The concept of Moneyball
-The cast of Hell's Kitchen
-My cat, Pandora
-My other cat, Izzy
-Kevin Millar
-Don Orsillo
-Jerry Remy
-The game Family Feud
-Jose Lima (Rest in peace, Jose)
-Roy Halladay
-The city of Baltimore (I'll see you Friday, Baltimore!)

That about does it. Man, and you thought I couldn't get any lazier!